WASHINGTON — More than 100 sexually exploited teenagers, some as young as 13, were rescued during a nationwide sex-trafficking sting over the weekend, the FBI announced Monday.
The three-day sweep of 76 cities focused on underage victims of prostitution. The FBI said 105 teens who range in age from 13 to 17 — nearly all of them girls — were rescued, and 150 suspected pimps were arrested.
The raids included the rescue of three children and an adult in Hillsborough County, according to the FBI. In Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, investigators arrested 24 adults on prostitution charges and identified — but have not arrested — eight pimps.
The raids, carried out by nearly 4,000 local, state and federal officers, brought renewed attention to the vulnerabilities of foster children, who are disproportionately targeted and recruited by child sex traffickers, sometimes right out of the foster care system.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which tracks missing child reports in the United States, 60 percent of runaways who are victims of sex trafficking had been in the custody of social services or in foster care.
The raids are part of Innocence Lost, an initiative that the FBI says has rescued 2,700 sexually exploited children since 2003.